The Buffer Zone

What is the Buffer Zone?

In simple terms, the Buffer Zone is a cushion that enables each player’s net score to exceed the Competition Scratch Score (CSS) without resulting in an increase to their handicap. The number of strokes depends on the player’s handicap category.

The Buffer Zone varies for each handicap category as follows:

  • Category 1 – (up to 5)  – CSS +1 stroke
  • Category 2 – (6 to 12)  – CSS +2 strokes
  • Category 3 – (13 to 20) – CSS +3 strokes
  • Category 4 – (21 to 28) – CSS +4 strokes
  • Category 5 – (29 to 36) – CSS +5 strokes
  • Category 6 – (37 to 54) – CSS +6 strokes

If a player’s net score (after applying any net double bogey adjustment) lies:

  • Above the buffer zone, their handicap is increased by 0.1
  • Between the CSS and the Buffer Zone, their handicap remains unchanged
  • Below the CSS, their handicap is reduced

Why is the Buffer Zone different for each handicap category?

  • The different Buffer Zones reflect the different scoring patterns/expectations of golfers of varying ability.
  • The Buffer Zone for each Handicap Category has been created to ensure golfers across all handicap categories have the same likelihood of playing to their Buffer Zone or better.

How does this work?

Example 1

  • A golfer with a handicap of 9 (Category 2) scores a gross 83, resulting in a net 74.
  • No net double bogey adjustments are to be made to the player’s scorecard.
  • The CSS for the day was calculated at 72.
  • The Buffer Zone for a category 2 golfer is CSS + 2 strokes = 74.
  • Handicap Adjustment: In this instance there is no adjustment to the player’s handicap as their net scores lies within the Buffer Zone.

Example 2

  • A golfer with a handicap of 5 (Category 1) scores a gross 77, resulting in a net 72.
  • No net double bogey adjustments are to be made to the player’s scorecard.
  • The CSS for the day was calculated at 70.
  • The Buffer Zone for a category 1 golfer is CSS +1 stroke = 71.
  • Handicap Adjustment: In this instance the player’s net score lies outside the buffer zone therefore their handicap is increased 0.1

Key points

  • The Buffer Zone is a cushion added to the CSS which varies (as above) according to a player’s Handicap Category.
  • Any nett score returned between the CSS and the Buffer Zone will result in a player’s handicap remaining unchanged.
  • Only nett scores that are above the Buffer Zone result in handicap increases.